Monday, November 20, 2017

Preparing the workforce for the future

Two articles of interest over the last couple of weeks, on the challenges wrought by the rapid move to a 'post-industrial' society and the threats of AI / digital economy to the out current way of life.

These two articles, discuss proposed ways forward to prepare workers for the future of work.

Firstly, an article from Todayonline on 'preparing the workforce for a changing future'. This article, spells out the current thinking of the Singapore Government in working towards preparing workers for the future of work. Basically, an excerpt from a speech by the Minister of Education (Higher Education and Skils) - Ong Ye Kung. Being a small country, Singapore has a history of being agile in meeting the various swings in world economy demands. A key to the country's flexibilitiy is the control over its education system. My relatives in Singapore, who are teachers, bemoan the ever increasing need to be engaged with 'lifelong learning' through mandated professional development programmes. However, all of this continual investment in education, to ensure teachers are well trained (note - not so much well -educated) means the curriculum is continually revamped to move with the Government's interpretation of 'what needs to happen to maintain economic growth'.

So the article, spells out the current and near future plans into the future, for the Singapore Continuing Education and Training (CET) sector. Of note, is the government's funding of all Singaporeans to engage in life-long learning through the Skills-Future Credit scheme. The focus is on courses on data analytics, advanced manufacturing, finance, digital media, cyber security, entrepreneurship, tech-enabled services in logistics and hospitality sectors and urban solutions. So a slant towards increasing capability and skills in the IT / AI / digital integration subjects.

The second article is from the bbcnews on 'how UK must prepare for the fourth industrial revolution. It is a summary of an independent review chaired by Siemens UK, highlighting the benefits of robotics, 3D printing and AI. There is a call for a commission to be formed, to help UK businesses adjust to the shift as large numbers of workers will need to be retrained.

Again, the focus here is on attaining IT / AI and digital literacy type skills.

This morning, a timely report to round off the two above from the NZ Herald. On the topic 'will robots take over the world?' In short, a warning, that AI is perhaps currently over-hyped and there is still much to be done, before robots are anywhere able to take over the world. A good example is the often rolled up example of how Google developed an AI programme to beat the best human player in the game Go. However, this programme is only able to play Go and not able to do much else. Human traits like common sense, intuition, tacit knowledge and emotional attributes like compassion are a long way from being 'programmable'.

Which leads me to think about the concentration in Singapore and the UK on the 'hard skills' and the need for workers of the future to also be really aware of the ethics of implementing AI solutions. AI may be programmed with rules and algorithms to be ethical, but ethics is and perhaps may never be able to sort out the 'grey' as life, as we now know it, is far from 'black and white'.

Food for thought for this week :)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Modern professional learners’ toolkit

Jane Hart's 'Modern Professional Learners' Toolkit, is worth a look. The list is distilled from her yearly list of top 100 tools and provides a good resource for all learners to check through.

Tools include web browsers, web resources, news and curation tools, web courses, social networking tools, blogging, productivity tools and apps and communication and collaboration tools.

Personal information system include evernote, onenote and pebblepad. So will need to check out pebblepad capabilities for this options.

As always, it pays to review the tools one uses, to see if there are other more effective / efficient ones to shift across to.

My list includes:
Browser - Chrome - as gmail account follows one from device to device.
web sources - Google Scholar - not mentioned but my go to page to begin a search for any papers relevant to my research
news and curation - Feedly and google alerts - will need to check out Nuzzel and Pocket.
webcourse platform - Ara as access to Lynda.com, but I also use Cousera
social networks - the usual, linkedin for professional use, facebook for personal / family, Researchgate for researchers
Personal information system - I actually use this blog
Productivity tools - google docs
Office suite - microsoft
communication and collaboration - onedrive for work, gmail for personal, Zoom for work, Skype for personal
Devices - work - Surface 3 tablet and Nokia Windows phone, home - Ipad mini.

Main thing is to find a tool that fits into what you need to do for work / personal, but also evaluate as technology progresses to keep up with the play. Tools and apps are now so much more intuitive to use but many people do not use all the tool/apps capabilities as few will read the instructions. Something I need to improve on as well.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Ako Aoteoroa National Projects in progress colloquium- 2017

Ako Aotearoa National Projects Colloquium 

Wellington turns on a blue dome day for a one day colloquium at Te Papa. National Projects currently funded by Ako Aoteoroa report on work in progress or on their final findings / results.

Mihi whakatua / welcome with Dr. Joe Rito, deputy director and Dr. Beatrice Dias-Wanigasekera, project funds manager. Joe provided summary of work undertaken on getting the various national projects going. Beatrice summarised Ako Aoteoroa’s strategic objectives with National Projects and the goals of the colloquium. In particular, the synergies between various projects and opportunities for projects to work together into the future.

Our project on eassessment is first up. I provide an overview, rationale and methodology. James Gropp from the aviation engineering school in Blenheim provides details of the Nelson Malborough Institute of Technology sub-project. James emphasised the need to ensure learning is a goal in problem based learning, not just the completion of a task. I then close with preliminary themes. 

Next up, Drs. Barbara Kensington-Miller, Sean Sturm and Amanda Gilbert from University of Auckland and Victoria university present on their project - making the invisible visible: illuminating undergraduate learning outcomes beyond content and skills. Used a role play to bring across the message about that students are subject focused when asked to describe their attainment. Yet, completing a degree encompasses not only knowledge but also a large range of skills and attitudes. Framework used as an observation tool to identify attributes considered invisible or aspirational. The details of attributes would then be useful to students,  lecturers/tutors and employers. Provided an example from psychology with empathy as an attribute. Goes through specify, explain, embed and nudge (how does this translate beyond class and course) with examples in learning objectives, activities and observable behaviour. Guides now prepared for students, lecturers and employers. Roadshows, workshops and conferences also used to disseminate model. 

After morning tea, 3 sessions. First up, Neil Ballantyne from the Open Polytechnic and Dr. Jane Maidment from the University of Canterbury on enhancing the readiness to practice of newly qualified social workers. A three year, three phase project. Neil presented background and overview. Phase one was a stock take of current curriculum. Then, find out from stakeholders how competent new graduates are. Then include the capabilities into revised framework. Curriculum would be the declared, taught and learnt. Used a data visualisation platform called Tableau (a free / public version app) to complete analysis of the curriculum documents from 14 institutions. Progressing into phase two. 

Second presentation with Professor Susan Geertshuis and Narissa Lewis from University of Auckland on embedding employability in the curriculum: strategies for the development of employability attributes with advanced and research informed programmes. Detailed background and rationale and the four Es employability model. A simple pedagogical model to guide teaching required. Especially with capabilities like ethical and professional practice, independent and critical thinking, integrity, social responsibility, proactivity, adaptability etc. all of of these are difficult to teach. Four Es are excite, explore, exhibit and extend to underpin transformation teaching. How do you also recognise capabilities students attained outside of studies, for example in their communities, and co-curricula opportunities. Next step is to collect exemplar cases to support four Es. Check www.futurereadygrads.ac.nz

Third up, Dr. Qilong Zhang, Meghan Rush, Tina Mischewski and Jon Sadler from Toi Ohomai Institution of Technology on a cross disciplinary comparison as the approach to developing work ready plus graduates. Talked about the process and the challenges of a collaborative project. Project developed five discipline specific work ready plus models - health studies, creative technology, early childhood, management and construction from level 3-4 to 8-9. Meghan presented on the findings from the level 7 health studies. In particular to make visible how employability priorities are embedded through the programme. Jon presented various issues historical and emerging. 

After lunch, three more presentation beginning with Professor Dory Reeves and Lena Henry from the University of Auckland on Te Whaihanga- preparing built environment professionals to work with Maori. Main goal to develop an online video and supporting material for teaching and learning in planning, architecture, engineering and landscape disciplines. Encompasses knowledge on why professionals need to be able to work with Maori; a learning assessment tool to have values and principals to be embedded; a video and supporting material to assist with how to deal with situations; and to be used in facilitated workshops. The three core values are mana, rangitiratanga and kaitiakitanga. 

Then, Mark Williams, Kylie Taffard and Loretta Garrow from the Building and Contruction Industry Training Organization share their project on - what are the characteristics of an effective learning journey for women entering trades? Kylie presented background and here the items presented fits into the larger project. The other objectives are to understand employer demands and industry needs. The first part to inform further change projects relating to education and industry practices and processes. The project will use data from interviews with women who are successful in the trades, to develop personas. Influencers tended to be intrinsic, included setting goals, challenge themselves, love/ passion of the materials and type of work and knew they had transferable skills. People with influence include family - usually male, teachers and pre-trade tutors, potential employer and WINZ. barriers include needing to defend choice of career, women who had not been successful, difficulty in getting position, training may be challenging and logistical issues with assessments and off job training, special treatment can be unsupportive. Relationships in the job important, along with supportive managers, having a mentor, working with a team, positive responses from other tradies and customers, aspects of the work and satisfaction with work. Events included completing pre trade, respect of peers and others, first pay cheque. They had a plan for the future. Shared drafts of personas for feedback. 

Third presentation is with Mike Styles and Dr. Lesley Petersen from Primary ITO present on their work to evaluate effectiveness of support interventions for dyslexic learners in multiple learning environments. Extended on some of the items presented at the recent NZVET research forum. Included background of the study and rationale for work to extend the work beyond the primary industry context. Detailed the project details. 

Dr. Stanley Frielick, Director of Ako Aoteoroa completes a summing up of the day.

A poroporoaki / farewell closed the colloquium.


Colloquium progressed on to a networking session with Central hub colloquium presenters, running concurrently at the same time. Seven , just completed Ako Aoteoroa national project reports were also launched to celebrate Ako Aoteoroa’s first decade. 

Projects are:
Weaving our worlds - strengths plus evidence based approach to increase academic achievement of Maori Health Sciences students.
Ako whakaruruhau - supporting Maori trades apprentices in the workplace
Learning in undergraduate mathematics - a set of seven guides to improve outcomes for mathematics learners
A pedagogy of Pacific learner success - success factors underpinning the Pacific Bachelor of Nursing and Social work at Whitireia.
Language in the trades - learning and teaching trade specific language for trades
Learning analytics data and teaching / learning design - using learning analytics to inform teaching
Ka whanau mai te reo: kei tua o te kura - support for Maori learners as they transition from Maori schools into tertiary. 


Monday, October 30, 2017

Is NZ ready for the impact of AI?

Here is an interesting article, from this morning's paper. The article provides the argument that NZ, compared to other countries, is well placed to meet the challenges posed to the future of work, through the advent of Artificial Intelligence.

One indicator, is the recent change of government here in NZ. The Labour party, in coalition / partnership with two other parties, NZ First and the Greens, formed the new government last week. The National party, which had governed for nine years, is in opposition. A turning point in the decision by NZers to support a change, was the growing disaffection with the outcomes of 'neo-liberalism'. There has been a growing inequality across NZ which many NZers, with an inherent pre-disposition to supporting the ideals of an egalitarian society, have found to be difficult to deal with.

The article proposes, like many others, the deployment of a UBI -universal basic income - to ameliorate the coming stress on the job market, through the introduction of AI into many types of work and jobs. The Labour party, at least, has been doing some work into understanding the impact of technology and AI on work - see their final report launched last year and summarised on this blog.

The more I read, the more I am in support of the notion that work will not perhaps disappear, but work will change. As argued in this series of articles, summarised recently, mundane and routine work activities may be replaced by intelligent agents, but the less routine and trouble shooting type work activities, will remain. So, large parts of some types of work will change.

In vocational education, the objective is still to prepare people for work. So perhaps, there will not be major impact on many of the occupations requiring long preparation to prepare novices for undertaking specialised work. What is required, is for academic, critical thinking and digital literacies  to be attained so that work with AI or automated 'intelligent agents' provides the enhanced productivity which is frequently sought.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

NZ VET research forum - DAY 2


Wellington turns on the wind yesterday afternoon and a blustery night followed. This morning, a cold Southerly brings light rain, so a good day to be indoors.

Day 2 begins with welcome from Dr. Stanley Frielick, Director of Ako Aoteoroa. Greetings and update on how change of govt. in NZ poses some opportunities for VET research to meet the challenges to the future of work. 

Morning keynote is with Distinguished Professor Paul Spooney who presents on the topic immigration and diversity: preparing for the future. Summarised demographics across the next 10 years, 2 out of 5 live in Auckland but most regional NZ in decline, Asian communities outnumber Maori, more people over 65 than under 15 and major shifts in nature of employment. Work will also be very different. Due to less young people, there is a challenge on future labour and skills supply. 40 to 50% of 2016 will not exist in 2026 but new jobs will emerge. 21st century workers may expect to be in 5 careers and 17 types of work. Immigration is the key source of skills, bringing in young and educated workers. Hyper diversity is the challenge to NZ social fabric. 

Then concurrent sessions begin.

I attend the presentation by Dr. Jenny Poskitt from Massey University on Degree Apprenticeship: is this the future for employer led industry partnerships in NZ? Detailed context in NZ and overseas, benefits and what does the NZ degree apprenticeship look like. Rationale to meet skills shortages in areas like engineering, asset management, IT caused by skills mismatch, ageing workforce etc. university education takes 3-4 years but graduates still require several years to become productive. Summarised the international landscape - Germany, USA, UK. Defined degree apprenticeship as a tripartite employer, provider and learner to combine high quality degrees with on the job and professional pathways. Collated the features as flexible delivery, assessments etc. aligned to work, learning is work and work is learning plus authentic learning with workplace mentor. Benefits are many (Antcliff, Baines and Gorb, 2016; Bravenboer, 2016; Gunderson and Krashibnsky, 2015: Jones, 2011). Reported on pilot funded by e2e to address skill shortage in asset management side of engineering. Described process for deriving the knowledge skills and behaviours required in the degree qualification. Emphasised the need to build relationships, listen to employer and be responsive. Recommended alternative names, mastership, sponsored degree etc. investigating tax incentives, creating structures, aligning policies e.g. learning pathways etc. ended with potential benefits and risks and tensions. 

Then at the next session, a presentation on similar lines in engineering from Brendan Mischewski from e2e on Micro credentials in engineering. In NZ quality services meet needs for millions of kiwis but innovation is not encouraged and the evidence is weak. Reviewed findings of productivity commission which challenged the status quo. Provided rationalisation for the need to have rapid and responsive qualification systems and completions. Detailed e2e response to meet NZ current and future engineering needs. Skills shortage at 6 and 7 which will relieve stress on level 8 engineers to meet challenges requiring innovation. Alternative credentials include work based learning, boot camps. MooCs, professional exams, adult and community learning and recognition of prior learning. Approaches include packages of learning within accredited ed,, activities outside, aspects and teaching and experiences, aimed to provide a bridge. Provided examples of micro credentials as Competenz micro learning, BCITO. Hop on hop off, NZ Dip. Ag.  Self driving vehicles etc. need to work on how to ensure quality and relevance, who benefits, how to leverage, and how to optimise performance. Detailed an initial model for microcredentials for engineering. Future, to developing and expert engineer. Also discussed current NZQA    Pilots -  and e2e ideas  -  rethinking NZDE, fire engineering stream, public works, sustainability bolt on, PD, pathways for Pasifika, and simplifying RPL.
  
A short plenary address with Philip Walker, principal advisor from Stats NZ follows. Phil presented on data in a changing world. Overview of the impact on industries business models. 5 trends include new behaviours, technologies, millennial workforce, mobility and globalisation. Now in a world of rapid and continual change where data my assist us to better understand our challenges. Used agriculture as an example of change. Drop in number of workforce but increase in parts of industry requiring R n D activity to cope with continual market shifts. So decrease in on farm worker but increase in analysts, irrigation specialists, consultants and researchers. Provided details of NZ integrated data set- IDS - (IDI and LBD) which bring together data collected by various government agencies. Longitudinal data provides journey of individuals (generalised) and cohorts. Provided details how to access data and recommendations on skills required to make the most of the data. Also provided information on other initiatives, the data leadership hub, data stewardship and the census. provided examples. 

After lunch, two sessions. Dana Taylor from IPU NZ with Becoming agents in their Vocational learning: English language learners self reflection throughput a workplace training course. Shared an action research project to find out how international students transform their identity through work experience (70 hours). Part of a level 5 tourism program. Provides situated learning but international or ELLs face linguistic, interactional, cognitive, instructional and organisational challenges. Scaffolds required to prepare students to deal with a different work culture, symbols and behaviours and obtain sociolinguistic and sociopragmatic confidence. Confidence required to deal with culture shock and workplace expectations, tutorials on cultural awareness, fluency and self-efficacy. Used short written survey to establish students progress towards meeting graduate outcomes. A good example of using an evidence base to ensure students meet learning outcomes. 

Then, a joint session starting with Mike Styles from the Primary ITO with his ongoing work on evaluating the effectiveness of support interventions for dyslexia learners in multiple learning environments. Stressed the need for people with dyslexia to be better supported. Reported on an Ako Aoteoroa National project which is 2/3 complete. Learners with dyslexia were supported using a package adapted from one used by the Primary ITO. Consists of screening to provide quality info. About their dyslexia. Support them to own their condition and info. To their employers, tutors, training advisors etc. also human and technological support. Reported interim findings. Dyslexia tend to either excel or languish. They have usual problems with literacy, limited short term memory, limits on sequencing skills, longer cognitive and physical processing speed and slower automacity. Positives include better spatial 3D skills, empathy, problem solving and ability to read people and creative / different thinkers. Recommendations include importance in supporting, informing and empowering people who are key supporters; technologies getting cheaper and more effective but require support to use and changes to behaviour; aid learners to share their strategies with their peers; dyslexia friendly resources has value for all learners; apps like dyslexia aid; use dyslexi font. 


Wrap up concludes the conference. Looking forward to next years conference in Sydney :)

NZ VET research forum - DAY 1



Notes taken at the annual NZ Vocational Education and Training research conference. Held in Wellington as usual and my annual opportunity to catch up with NZ VET researchers.

The conference opens with a whakatua and welcome from Josh Williams CE of the Industry Training Federation (ITF). Josh, in his usual style, summarised the intent of the conference and reminded the participants to keep their eyes / ears out any major announcements!

Professor Stephen Billett sets the pace with his keynote on Emerging goals for Vocational Education and responsive curriculum and pedagogic practices. Firstly, build his case, summarising the need to ensure we better understand pedagogy at work due to the ongoing pace of change taking place now in types of work and how work is in turn constituted. There is growing focus on job readiness, contextualisation to local needs, requirements to understand ‘difficult, work and need to have greater self directed learning and lifelong learning. Recommends, job readiness needs to also ensure learners have opportunities to learn different ways the occupation may be enacted. Educational goals include canonical knowledge and situational manifestations. Reiterated that expertise is situational. Defined how hard to learn knowledge, especially as work shifts from tactile to symbolic e.g. mechanical to CNC lathes. Through most of history, occupational learning has been through practice. 
Responsive curriculum and pedagogies assist through provision of authentic, purposeful workplace learning experiences; educational institution based experiences through simulations, story telling, projects, etc.; integrating workplace experiences - esp. before, during and after; post-work experience augmentation; learning of symbolic and conceptual knowledge; and promoting the development of active engagement by learners. 

After morning tea, the concurrent sessions begin.

I attend session with Sean Squires from Toi-Ohomai - Institute of Technology - Tauranga, who is head of Automotive Engineering, on designing and delivering Vocational training programs to meet the need of future workplaces. advocates the need to ensure learners are able to find, evaluate and apply knowledge rather than memorise information. Need to find out what industry needs. Provide students with tools to learn. Flexibility and innovation enables connectivity between learners, trainers and industry. Shift from text to digital and multimedia / multi modal. Trust between employer, trainer and apprenticeship important. Surmises that there is a need to have humans undertake teaching as AI and robots may not be able replicate the individuality of trades learning.

Then, a session with Karen Vaughan and Jo MacDonald on transfer of learning in apprentice development for health and community support work. Focused on helping apprentices attain reflective learning skills to enable workplace based learning to be effectively undertaken. Rationale for the work, changing nature of support work and beginning of a new apprenticeship programme. What was the value of adding an apprenticeship. 21 apprentices participated and they worked in aged care, intellectual physical therapy and case work with disadvantaged youth. Nature of support work includes high unpredictability with need to continually problem solve and reflect on practice, great job satisfaction, team work and the emotional labour. Defined near, further and far transfer of learning. Reported on how apprentices understood their learning and matched to near, further or far transfer. Also connected to and defined as per finding, Schon’s reflecting on / in action. How and when reflection took place and what did apprentices do with the results of their reflective learning. Key finding, changes are personal and professional, guided by underlying principles, there are flexible interactions with clients. Businesses need have confidence for apprentices, client and business, what happens before and after training, challenges are presented by the nature of work, training arrangements and organisational climate and affordances. 

The after lunch keynote is with Dr. Craig Fowler CEO from the Australian NCVER. He presents on from measuring to interpreting: progress in visualisation, analytics and research to inform the Australian VET system. Began with overview on NCVER objectives, funding and purpose. Presented vision and mission of the new NCVER strategic plan from 2017 to 2020. Summarised complexities of the federal system on collection of data and the data products produced. Introduced the new tools for dissemination of data through digital visualisation. Discussed in greater depth the challenges for analysis and advantages presented by data linkage across other government databases. Provided example of data mining of job advertising to work out if currency and validity of training packages. Need to try to collect regularly, skills performed and skills identified as lacking from a job, so individuals, trainers and policy makers better informed. 

**Announcement made of next NZVET research forum to be held with the annual NCVER no frills conference in Sydney from 15 to 17 August 2018. **

Concurrent sessions carry through the afternoon.

I present details on the various sub projects from the eassessment project. This time, more details on each actual sub- project. The common threads are to match the context of learning with the affordances of technology to enable the feedback process to be effective. Learners need to learn how to understand feedback and leverage of it. Tutors need to be familiar with technology affordances to maximise application. Technology needs to be matched to learning goals and context of discipline / organisation. 

Then, Graeme Couper presents on an integrated approach- holistic assessment of NZ dairy farm trainees. Started with background and rationale. Summary of a study towards Masters thesis in Education. Post Troq, more holistic approach possible to bring together theory and practice, aligned to grad outcomes, less assessing and looking into other ways to assess knowledge in practical context. Detailed research design and questions. Interviews recorded on smart pen. Found better integration between theory and practice, more flexible, active and engaged learning, real world evidence used , active assessment interaction between those involved, greater satisfaction and enjoyment of process, and some practical challenges in the change.  Summarised implications towards approaches towards applying knowledge to practice, authentic and robust assessment, and an opportunity to revisit the con pet of competence.

Last session with Averil Coxhead, Jean Parkinson and Falakiko Tu’amoheloa from Victoria University on bilingual approaches to technical trades vocabulary in Tongan and English. Presented on one aspect of the Ako Aoteoroa National fund - learning the language of the trade- project. Began with overview of the wider project objectives and where the study presented fits. Summarised the rationale for the project, why study trades language which has just as demanding a vocabulary as university level learning. Tongan lists derived from word lists for carpentry, plumbing and engineering. 30% technical vocabulary is in the written language but 10% in spoken in the workshops. Seems to be mismatch in words in the glossary between words in glossary and words in the textbook. Detailed difficulties in translating vocabulary. The Pasifika approach to research (Talanoa) to carry out the translations was detailed. Learners need to know there are technical words in Tongan, some are Tonganised and the ones without equivalents require rules to derive. Implications also presented. 

As usual, a busy day and I was unable to be at several sessions due to clashes in the programme. Evening networking continued to allow for catch up with ITO and ITP people with an interest in and supportive of VET research. 




Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Top 200 tools for learning - Jane Hart's collation for 2017

The annual top 200 tools for learning now available. As usual, a good resource for educators of the types of digital tools available to assist with learning. There is a brief analysis  with details of the participants who provided the data and this year's shifts.

On my part, I use this yearly post to update myself on the various tools available. Especially to check out the ones I have not encountered and to evaluate them for relevance to the learning needs of the various programmes at Ara.

Familiar and 'tried and true' tools make up the first 50 on the list. The first 'new' entry arrives at 55 with Typeform, a forms and survey tool. I will try this out the next time I need to do a short survey and compare it to my usual go to survey tool - Survey Monkey.

Most of the new entries appear after 100. The ones I will check out are Wisemapping for mindmapping, tableau for interactive data visualisation (free trial but payment beyond),  Quizizz a free quizz generator, smartup for microlearning and ENTiTi (paid app) for generating AR and VR content.

Some familiar names have now come up into the rankings - including Pebblepad for eportfolios, office lens and google keep.


Thursday, October 05, 2017

INAP conference 2017 DAY 2

iNAP day 2

Begins with keynote by Professor Dr. Michael Gessler from the Institute of Training in Germany,  on collaboration between companies and schools in the German dual Apprenticeship system. Began with overview as to the importance of nomenclature. VET should use its own structure so it is now always seen as a lesser alternative to university. Higher VET should have its own way of accreditation. Summarised the various ways to define Apprenticeship: informal, time served, competence based, standards based, dual sequential, dual alternance, dual integration, trial alternance. Provided history of European apprenticeship to unpack the reasons for the many ways apprenticeship is structured and the evolution of the dual system which began in Germany in 1964. Dual system relies on cooperation between industry and the vocational school. However, cooperation has never been prevalent and relationship between school and industry has been industry holding more power. Research has focussed on outcomes I.e. Assessments but important to improve the process of training instead. Shared current work on codifying the concept of collaboration. Continuum between coordination, cooperation and co construction. Details in International journal for research in VET vol 4, issue 2 for article. 

Workshop streams begin and I attend the stream on Apprenticeship and universities.

Dr. Michael Barrett, James Eustace and team from IT Sligo and SOLAs, on lessons learned from the implementation of Ireland's first degree level Apprenticeships using the BA (Hons) (level 8) in Insurance Practice. Overview of Irish context, rationale for the new apprenticeship and the details of implementation. Plans to increase number of 'new' apprenticeships, which are not craft based, to increase range of industries and range of occupations and range of learners beyond traditional profiles. So, industry led, at levels 5 to 10, 2 to 4 years and flexible on line delivery to support mostly workplace based learning. For the insurance practice, students have one day at work to be participating in the online classes. Programme runs across 3 semesters a year, with one semester over the traditional summer 'break'. Detailed how the collaboration across insurance institute, employers, education provider and apprentices. National governance and the social partners' involvement are key to the programme's development and continuance. Also relationships with industry, employers, government agencies looking after apprenticeships and providers. 

Yuen Sui Ping on her current PhD study at the University of Siegen, on Measuring experience-knowledge as a factor for 'industry 4.0' (industrial internet of things). Detailed expert systems, need for explicit and tacit knowledge and overview of current research. Rationale for the need of new types of skills which are interdisciplinary, high level cognitive and relational. Current project seeks to find out what constitutes human knowledge and what human cognitive processes cannot be replaced. reiterated Burch four stage model of competence from novice to expert and mastery. Explicit knowledge is describable and tacit is difficult to capture, usually intuition, common sense etc. method is to have 20 candidates who are novices to expert to perform a set tasks, 3 times on 3 different days. Task completion is observed, timed, and the candidate is asked to verbalise the task.  

After lunch, a plenary panel discussion led by Diana Jones on developments in Latin America (Maria Victoria Fazio), England (Thomas Bewick), Germany (Michael Gessler) and Continental Europe (Antje Barabasch). 
Mario Victoria Fazio is from the Inter American Development Bank with Apprenticeships in the 21st century. Set up the context whereby there is high unemployment, difficult school to work transitions, there is a technical and socio emotional skills gap and there is low productivity in firms. Solutions tend to be short term. Apprenticeship seen to be better due to longer term commitment. Defined apprenticeship as requiring contract, structured training, on and off job training and ends with certification. Not all of these present in LA countries and systems are very small. Ended up with a toolkit of 10 core elements to support implementation of apprenticeship. Align with country strategy, engage employers, set structure, fund and incentivise, develop curricula, deliver, assess, certify, promote and ensure quality. Shared case study on setting up new programme in Bahamas. 

Tom Bewick, President of the Transalantic Apprenticeship exchange forum, shared experiences on the development of apprenticeship from scratch in England. Provided overview of last decade in England including large increase in apprenticeship numbers. Case study of creative industries sector. At beginning,  no tradition of apprenticeship. Began with development of creative arts pathways to help understand industry skill needs, test different approaches and make apprenticeship something special. 

Antje Barabasch shared the European experience. Detailed one of the first projects completed by the European Alliance for Apprenticeship. Looked in the governance policies of several countries Spain, Portugal, Latvia etc. Spain expressed interest in setting up experience. Italy investigating options. Portugal and Latvia has few apprentices mainly school based. Sweden working on improving of current system but has developed an apprenticeship for adults. 

Michael Gessler representing the European consortium of VET researchers, presented a quick review of the various ways Apprenticeship is constituted. Summarised 2015 Riga agreement for VET. 

Discussion followed around:
Need to define what is apprenticeship? YES. and panel members provided rationale and requirements.
What kinds of assessment matrix should be adopted? Check Onefile, a fully online system for employers and apprentices, which connects competency standards to evidence, used in England. European approach is to ensure teachers provided with good understanding of role of assessments and quality standards. Assessment is a key only if you don't trust the system. A good system should support assessments for feedback, not just for certifications. 

Last round of workshops focused on trends and patterns across countries.
I attend the following:

Bai Bin on a qualitative research of Apprenticeship competency training in school based Master studio. Cooperation between school and workplace does not work well, therefore difficult to find good workplaces for apprentices. Introduced concept of master studios, as the employment of expert practitioners in school based workshops to teach. A way to provide model practice to novices. Masters are still working in industry and come into studio at selected times to demonstrate and teach. Study on what tasks should be selected, the learning scenario and curriculum. Interviewed masters and students to find out their perceptions. Also collected evidence from studio observations and blogs. Important are work task selection, ill defined working tasks, complex scenarios and the organisation of the work. Also Apprentices learn work process, the teaching style and characteristics of master is important and need to integrate learning at school to master studio sessions.

Liu Yuting with a qualitative research on cultivation of Apprenticeship in traditional arts and crafts. Presented background and rationale. Important to retain traditional crafts. Exampled by carved lacquer craft which has a 1,400 years history but only small number of master practitioners. Long engagement with the work and learning through deliberate practice required to learn the complex skill. Interviewed practitioner and analysed others via video, journals on craft practice. Explained various skill components used in carving. Established master took 1 1/2 years to learn skills and then 2 hours a day across 20 years to refine. Skills learnt through imitation of master, routine training and socio cultural learning. Draws up characteristics of deliberate practice as time, personalised learning, reflection, high goals, feedback opportunities.  

All in a good opportunity to catch up on developments in various other countries. 

International Network on Innovative Apprenticeship-conference 2017 - DAY 1


In Washington DC for the biannual International Network of Innovative Apprenticeship (INAP) conference. The theme is Modern Apprenticeship: widening their scopes, sustaining their quality. The conference is held at the US Bureau of Statistics and organised by the American Institute for Innovative Apprenticeship, Siemens Foundation, Urban Institute and the Swiss Embassy. An opening reception is held on the evening of 1/10. As always, good to meet familiar faces and meet new researchers. 

The opening session is chaired by Robert I. Lerman. Greetings and opening remarks come from Professor Philipp Gonon.

First keynote is with Dr. Omar Arias from the World Bank, who speaks on the topic - Skills policies in a fast-changing world of work. Provided a high level overview, of relevance to Apprenticeships.Covered 3 mega trends - globalisation, shifting trade patterns and demographic shifts. Implications for skills demand and follow on to skills policies and programs. Mega trends exponential change increased by technological (ICT) breakthroughs. Brings costs of processes down, income from manufacturing employment has peaked and a concern for developing countries as they now are unable to raise national productivity and wages. Increasing urbanisation increases need for Services, shifting skills from technical to social / relational. So, increase in high skilled occupations with intensive non routine cognitive and interpersonal skills and decrease in low skilled occupations with non routine manual skills. Middle skills with intensive routine cognitive and manual skills especially challenged. Therefore, multiplicity of skills required including basic cognitive, social emotional and technical skills. Recommends training systems are market / employer driven, tailor needs to clientele / learner population, adopt task based approach to training, have mainstream active learning practices e.g. Apprenticeship, internships etc. and be results and evidence based to make decision. 

Workshops then begin. The first has 3 streams. I attend the stream on Apprenticeship and universities: substitutes or complements.

First up, Thomas Deissinger from the University of Konstanz in Germany, on VET and universities in the German context - substitutes or complements? A problem analysis. Provided an overview of the German VET context, then the structural relationships between Vocational and academic and discussion. Explained how the dual system (Apprenticeship) works. In essence, allows for students to move from Vocational to work or Vocational to entry into the academic. Slight shift in numbers over last decade with an increase in higher ed. 2.8 million in 2015 and 2.3 million in dual and full time VET. Summarised the challenges to try to balance employers demands for high quality entrants and young people's expectations for occupations with high wages and opportunities. Introduced the concept of vocational academies or dual universities which are an option post upper secondary education which also includes universities, polytechnics or applied universities and university of education. 4 meanings of tertairisation of VET - Vocational full time schools, hybrid qualifications, new Batchelor courses in HE and HE Institutes copying the VET dual model. Dual universities often envisaged as a 'premium Apprenticeship '.  

Followed by, Warren Guest from Holmesglen TAFE completing his studies in conjunction with Mike Brown at La Trobe University in Melbourne on  - Pastoral care within a college setting: customising individual Apprenticeship support towards lifting participation and completion rates. Detailed study carried out to increase apprenticeship completion. Started with an overview of the Australian system for the international audience. Rationalised project objectives. Piloted a centre to support apprenticeship (ASC) offering liaison between the various agencies and support networks, players. 183 case studies examined  and interviewed 6 ASC staff to find out what it was about ASC works best. Support from ASC included elements of pastoral care usually solved by referrals to other agencies,  mentoring was to assist with advice as to what to do after Apprenticeship, assistance with academic skills and financial assistance. Vocational background of ASC deemed to be major advantage in helping to resolve issues and assist with eventual completion. 

After lunch, the second round of workshop run. I stay in the workshop stream I present in. The theme is occupational standards and assessing competence.

First up, Douglas Haynes and team from the Institute of Technology in Dublin on Innovative Assessment and its implication for Apprenticeship. Changed assessment type in one module. Provided background of the development of core practical skills using project based learning. Objective to shift summative assessment to being more transparent and collaborative. Students self assessed their own work then peer assessed to negotiate final mark. Context in electronic engineering. Wanted to improve student and teacher relationship, improve feedback, improve clarity of assessment, improve self evaluation and assessment skills, and increase student confidence. Found better student and teacher relationship, assessments were clearer, self evaluation and confidence similar. feedback valued more in traditional assessments which may be because of students were in first year and more dependent on teacher judgement. 

I present examples and interim findings from our eassessment for learning project. Revolving around the affordances of efeedback, range of feedback and learning possibilities and need to ensure students and tutors confidence not only in digital literacy but also in learning through using digital tools and platforms. 

Then Professor Ursel Hauschildt from University of Bremen, working with Helen Brown, with competence measurement and development in South Africa: exploring the determinants heterogeneity. Reports on major conclusions of data analysis on COMET. Provided statistics on number of test takers, their trades, genders and completion rates. Explained how competency graphs are constituted. Reported on learners' perceptions on being tested. Despite many learners unable to complete tasks, most supported the tests, they were interested and motivated and enjoyed the challenging test. Discussed the wide range of results coming from the 12 sites and the challenges presented by the SA contexts. Teacher tests reveal wide gap between top and bottom teachers and will need to be addressed to assist forward movement,

Followed by Professor Ralph Dreher from the University of Zeeland, on work process oriented content of VET - a concept facing the development of industry 4. Worked on understanding industry's perspective on what is the future of industry in the context of the internet of things? Provided examples of totally automatic systems, replacing skilled workers. High qualifications work now has changed to becoming the optimisers - requiring knowledge of production process and programming knowledge. Therefore, need to combine the vocational with the academic. Framed using curriculum focused on higher skills (Spottl / Dreher, 2009) - moving from craftsmanship to industrialisation and automation with increase from imitation to science, action and design orientation. From being able to do to understanding and reflection. From unconscious incompetence to unconcious competence. Need to shift teachers as well. And there is the challenge of trying to understand how to understand unconscious competence. How to develop tacit knowledge, giving the possibility to verbalise and codify tacit knowledge. 
http://www.tvd-edu.com/downloads.html

Last stream of workshops and I attend the stream on Innovative teaching and learning.

Dr. John Gaal presents on tweaking success: developing a pre-Apprenticeship program for at risk high school students. Provided US background and present opportunities to encourage apprenticeship in Missouri. Case studies on Bayless Floor Layers mAp focused on bringing apprenticeship into the secondary school system, Ferg-Flor advanced manufacturing based in 6 states, BUD lite to bring women and minorities into construction trades.  Detailed evolution, development and logistical plans with the original Bayless programme since 2004 and scaling to other states. Summarised learnings as identify best practice, focus on something workable first, do your research, turn back if it does not work, and establish trusting relationships. 

Then, Aine Doherty from the Institute of Technology at Sligo, Ireland, on using reflective online diary entry to enhance teaching and learning in online Apprenticeship: pedagogical perspectives. The three year programme BA in insurance practice through Apprenticeship. One day a week online learning using Adobe Connect and Moodle. standard BA curriculum followed and third semester over the summer is on the insurance specific learning. Summarised the challenges and recommendations on experiences as online teachers. Connected reflective practice to students own learning, analysed students postings to improve teaching approaches and enable more holistic assessments (diaries worth 20% for summative assessment). 

Bettina Siecke from the University of Applied Science in Düsseldorf presents on heterogeneity as a challenge in assistant nurse training: which strategies do teachers use? Introduced the topic and context on the German health sector. Skill shortage due to aging population requires a broadening of skill and easing entry in assistant nursing - into dual Apprenticeship and through full time Vocational schools and schools of health and social sector. Regular nurse training system summarised. Comparatively, assistant nurse training is for 1 -2 years and content and learner profile is more diverse. Small study with 4 interviews across 5 teachers. Reported on results.  

The conference then travels across to the Swiss Embassy for more presentations and conference dinner. 

We begin the evening with a welcome from Dr. Simon Marti head of science, technology and higher education from the Swiss Embassy. Provides an overview of Swiss and US cooperation on Apprenticeship along with context, system and funding on apprenticeship. 

Professor. Philipp Gonon from the University of Zurich provides an overview on recent trends in Switzerland: skills policies in a fast changing world of work. Presented on expansion, quality and hybridisation through a longitudinal, historical report on the longevity of the Swiss VET system. 

Dr. Robert Lerman follows with the trends in the U.S. Apprenticeship. discussed the different US system where apprenticeship numbers are low, when compared to other similar countries like U.K., Australia and Canada. Presented on some of the multiple reasons for this. Need to recognise more than just academic skills to include occupational and employability skills. Recent and present governments support expansion of apprenticeship. Need 9 elements to sustain apprenticeship, effective branding, incentivise to set up apprenticeship, develop credible occupational standards, make Apprenticeship easy to create, funding for off job classes and quality education, counselling, screening and support of apprentices, certification body to issue credentials and research, credible assessments and train the trainers. Proposed how some of these elements can be achieved. 

Brent Parton deputy director of centre for education and skills - New America, presents on US Youth Apprenticeship and Colorado startup. Provided quick overview of New America and its vision and mission. Presented study on why youth apprenticeship has not become mainstream in US. Included case study on initiative in Colorado. Found public open to Apprenticeship but systems are fragmented and not well known. However, need to keep at it has many advantages for apprenticeship. Presented examples although most relatively small and much still needs to be done regarding support systems and policies. 

Each provides their perspective. Dinner is pizza from A wood fired oven on the Embassy grounds.

A busy, productive but long day. Good networking with a range of researchers working on similar challenges. 




Monday, September 25, 2017

Ako Aotearoa 2016 annual report - resource for tertiary education research in NZ

Annual reports are perhaps not the most enervating of reads. However, Ako Aotearoa's 2016 annual report is more than just a bland overview of Ako Aotearoa activities and financial reporting for last year.

Caveat: I have received funding from Ako Aotearoa for several projects and have small mention in report as part of Ako Aotearoa Excellence in Tertiary Teaching selection panel.

It is a 'one stop shop' summarising some of the recent Ako Aotearoa funded projects - both the Nationally (usually $100,000 plus) and hub funded projects (around $10,000). The report begins with a Highlights section consisting summaries of 12 recently completed projects – both National and Hub funded.

Then, the report moves through to the reporting of the strategic themes which guide their work. The 'flavour' of the unique NZ tertiary system, with it's emphasis on biculturalism is captured well.
Of most use are the summaries of strategic direction and projects which align to each theme.
There is good information on Maori / Pasifika projects and the fostering and acting on the learner voice. These projects presently focus on building capability with student 'union' and associations to allow them to be able to better represent the needs of tertiary students. 

There are also summaries of submissions – especially to the recently completed Productivity commission report on new models of tertiary education. Ako Aotearoa supporting the need to ensure tertiary teachers are supported in their professional development as teachers.

The various national and regional projects were then summarised along with international linkages.

So, overall, not just an annual report but a good resource for anyone keen to find out more about the NZ tertiary educations system beyond statistics and policy statements. The report celebrates the uniqueness of NZ tertiary education as being more than just the learning of occupational skills but a contribution to the nation's social fabric and the building of a bi-cultural national ethos. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Transition to technology / AI driven world

I have been following with some interest, the reports over the last couple of weeks coming out of Asia on collisions between US Navy ships and other vessels.


As a consequence of the latest collision a couple of weeks ago, the fourth accident this year, the UN Navy relieved its commander of the 7th Fleet.

Today online had an interesting article on how the collisions may be an outcome of an over-reliance on technology. The article surmises this over-reliance on technology, may be have led to a decline in basic seamanship and other competencies.

One of the seminal readings on workplace on workplace learning is an article by Edwin Hutchins on ‘learning to navigate'.

Hutchins, E. (1996). Learning to navigate. In S. Chaiklin & Lave, J. (Eds). Understanding practice: perspectives on activity and context (pp.35-63). Cambridge, Mass: Cambridge University Press. also see his book - Cognition in the Wild.
An overview and more up-to date (2002) analysis and discussion on distributed cognition is provided by Karasavvidis.

In short, the article presents how the knowledge and expertise required to run complex machinery, organisations, processes etc. are shared amongst workers. The context for Pea’s study was a naval ship. The 'technology' 20 plus years ago, still required sailors to manually trace the ship's trajectory on nautical maps. Each seaman added a task / piece of knowledge and the collection of all of these activities ensured the ship reached its destination safely.

Of note, in Hutchin's work, and also the work of Pea, is the notion of 'distributed intelligence'. See the seminal readings for these:

Hutchins, E., & Klausen, T. (1998). Distributed cognition in an airline cockpit. In Y. Engestrom & D. Middleton, Cognition and communication at work (pp. 15-34).. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Pea, R.D. (1993). Practices of distributed intelligence and designs for education. In G. Salomon (Ed.), Distributed cognitions: Psychological and educational considerations (pp. 47-87). New York: Cambridge University Press.

When we add Artificial intelligence into the mix, the need for greater levels of understanding amongst the 'users' of the information being generated, takes on a whole different connotation. In short, the human 'overseers' will require some way to 'see the BIG picture'. Otherwise, decisions made by humans and AI, within already complex systems, become even more complicated. Especially given two recent examples for caution: AI robots are sexist / racist given their programmers tend to come from perspectives of privilege (often WASP) and 'killer robot' warfare is closer than we think.

Therefore, education for all humans, requires a BIG picture focus. The ability to be skilled in occupational tasks will also require an understanding of WHY the task is required, WHERE the task fits into the larger scheme of things and understanding of the implications if any parts of the whole, become compromised plus HOW to correct, re-develop, re-configure etc. if something does go wrong, in a timely manner. Simulations will need to ensure these big picture focuses are embedded to provide for authentic learning by novices and others requiring upgrading or updating. There is therefore also a need for learners to understand HOW AI may work and the algorithms underlying decision making. The human brain, may make decisions which are going to differ, due to the individualised nature of human learning. Hence, we not not only need to be empathetic to the needs of others when we work in teams etc. but also be aware of what AI brings into our work processes.




Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Disobedient Teaching - reflections on book

While away, catching up with my aged parents, I read the book ‘Disobedient teaching’ by Welby Ings. I read the book while awaiting my connecting flight from Melbourne to Singapore. The long flight across, provided me with some reflecting time. Over the last few days, I dipped in and out of the book, to better savour the many messages, woven through the narrative.

I have had the privilege of listening to several presentations provided by Welby over the years. Most have been whilst at AkoAotearoa Academy symposiums, a gathering of tertiary educators who have been recognised through an excellence in tertiary teaching award. Welby was the first winner of the Prime Ministers Supreme award in 2002. Welby’s presentations are always looked forward to, as he is a storyteller par excellence. He never fails to connect to my emotions as he talks about a topic, usually around the need to be a teacher, who is true to one’s self.

In 2007, when I attended at the first symposium, I was rather overwhelmed to be in such illustrious company. In hindsight, I was afflicted strongly by ‘the imposter’ syndrome. I was wondering where I fitted in as almost all the other academy members were university professors. Welby encouraged me with his gentle welcome, to be myself. In particular, he was a good listener and empathised with new members to the academy.

I have been looking forward to reading Welby’s book and needed to do the book justice by setting outside some dedicated time to read it. The book is written in a very accessible style, filled with stories to illustrate the recommendations made through the book. There are also techniques sprinkled through the book, of how to teach creatively, bravely and disobediently.The book is a clarion call to educators - to not be bowed by pressures from administrators, politicians and ministries. Instead to hold to the principles of good teaching and to uphold the prime objectives of being teachers. In short, to ensure learners' needs are advanced and the learners' voices are not subsumed.

I think all teachers who are any good, who care for their students and want to help them learn, should read this book. Teaching is, and always will be, about relationships. Not about how to ensure students only ‘pass a test’ but to help students learn more about themselves. How to help learners go about learning and becoming who they want to become.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Reading - recommendations via Good Reads

I have always been a voracious reader. At school, I averaged a book a day, albeit short fiction titles e.g. Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew etc. Weekly, I visited each of the three libraries within 3 km of my home and I still remember the day, when I turned 15 and I could borrow ‘adult’ literature on my ‘youth’ library card. Meanwhile, I worked my way through my neighbour’s book case. They were both school teachers and their library featured best sellers of the time – Michener, Uris, LeCarre along with a good collection of Agatha Christies. Like many readers, I began with no real planning, just whatever came to hand. As with Oliver Sacks, reading through childhood, gave me a perspective on the world outside of my sheltered upbringing. Also, as with Barrack Obama, books allow us to attain empathy for others who are unlike ourselves. 


For the past 16 years, my reading has centred around books, papers and journals pertinent to my studies and research. Hence, fiction reading has all but vanished apart from the odd science fiction / space opera over term breaks. In an effort to maintain a better work-life balance I now try to borrow one or two non-fiction titles each month from the local library which are not related to work / research. These books are aligned to my other interests – botany, geology, astronomy, travel (especially cycle touring a la Dervla Murphy and backpacking / mountaineering) etc.

Last year, I finally succumbed and signed up for goodreads, which is owned by Amazon - meaning the recommendations need to be taken with some awareness of marketing ploys. However,  I do like the ‘recommendations’. I find many to be useful and now have a rather large list of ‘want to read’ books archived for follow up. Through the goodreads recommendations, I have been able to find a wider range of books within related topics, expanding my reading repertoire beyond the usual weekly browse of the local library shelves. My ‘recreational’ reading has thus become more ‘focused’. I am not sure if this is a good thing or not. Browsing library shelves is a great way to widen ones’ horizon. The movement to ebooks has dampened some of the opportunities to browse as search engines stick to the patterns intuited from your previous searches. In a way, Goodreads is similar but at least the process is overt and one has a choice to move away from the recommended books predicated on the list of books one has read or wants to read.